Great Train Robbery Detective, Steve Moore.
Stanley Moore, always known as Steve, was one of the members of the Flying Squad team who were responsible for the capture of the men who had undertaken the Great Train Robbery of 1963.
The robbers became famous – folk heroes – and many members of the British public secretly hoped that they’d get away with their haul of £2.6 million that they’d stolen from the Glasgow to London mail train but it was not to be. They were discovered by the Flying Squad team – a team of just seven men. Yet today, it’s unlikely that anyone can name the officers who arrested the men who had perpetrated what was referred to as the crime of the century.
Steve Moore joined the police service in 1949 after completing his National Service. Five years later he became a detective. He was a huge sportsman and was happy to join the detective service as he believed it would give him more opportunity to play rugby. But he soon proved to be a valuable addition to the investigative team. His rugby skills did come in handy however – on several occasions he arrested criminals by chasing them through the streets and rugby-tackling them to the ground.
When the news about the robbery broke, Flying Squad detective Tommy Butler was in charge of the case and he recruited just six men. He selected Steve Moore because he was known to be an intelligent officer plus he was already investigating Bruce Reynolds who the police believe (correctly, it turned out) was the leader of the gang.
Immediately after the robbery the gang had hidden out in a remote property they had purchased, Leatherslade Farm. They intended to hide out there until the hue and cry had died down. But they made a mistake. When they were leaving the train they had just robbed, they told the driver and post office workers not to move ‘for half an hour’. This led the police to surmise, again correctly, that the gang were hiding out somewhere less than half an hour’s drive away. They began to search all the remote properties in the area.
The robbers heard this as it was broadcast on the radio news and they decided to flee. They had worked out elaborate ways to leave the farm but now these plans were in ruins. They had to get out quickly and manage as best they could. In doing so they left vital clues which the police found when they arrived at the now-deserted farm. The police found mailbags to confirm that this was indeed the robbers’ hideout and what’s more, they found fingerprints. They now knew who some of the men were so began to investigate them and their known associates.
Over the next few weeks, the arrests began. Steve Moore was involved in the arrest of Ronnie Biggs but it was the capture of getaway driver Roy James that proved to be one of the most dramatic. The police knew that Roy James was hiding out in a London house. They kept the property under surveillance. They tried to enter the house by the easy method of sending a policewoman, in plain clothes, to simply knock on the door with a parcel in her hands. They thought that James would imagine that it was a mundane delivery. But James wasn’t taken in.
Steve Moore, because of his supreme fitness, climbed up to the first floor balcony to gain access to the house. But as he did, he saw Roy James escaping through a fanlight and onto the roof. A roof top chase ensued but eventually, Moore got his man.
Steve Moore was the longest surviving member of the team who investigated the Great Train Robbery. He died in 2015, aged eighty eight.
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